Here we are nearly two years into COVID, and it’s shown no signs of letting up.
I’d had high hopes when the US border reopened this year just in time for American Thanksgiving, that it would mean I could place a US order and get it shipped to the border. But alas, the threat from the Omicron variant is making another border closure far too likely. I decided I really couldn’t take the chance.
Therefore, I only placed one Black Friday order this year, from one of the only remaining brands to sell petites in Canada: Banana Republic / GAP / Old Navy.
A good source of petite-friendly workwear, Banana Republic has been one of my go-to brands for years. Unfortunately, their prices have crept steadily upwards while their quality has done the reverse. These days, I don’t even bother browsing until there’s a sitewide 40% sale on, which, luckily, for Black Friday, there was.
The first item I picked up was this ribbed sweater in what Banana Republic describes as “responsible wool”. I was looking forward to a cozy soft merino wool sweater in a colour I normally love, which BR describes as “Bordeaux burgundy”:
Sweater: Petite Ribbed Sweater in Responsible Wool, size SP, $83.50 CAD (reduced from $139)
Unfortunately, in person, this sweater was a major disappointment. It was a much thicker wool than I anticipated, and softer feeling — almost like heavy cotton. And the colour is indeed lovely. But that’s where the positives ended.
The negatives? Well, basically, it came down to fit:
The fit was incredibly boxy, which just doesn’t work for us petite pear shapes at all. The length was far more cropped than I’d anticipated; cropped lengths usually look terrible on me because they just bunch up at the waist. The lack of a defined shoulder seam dragged the whole sweater down visually. And the sleeve length was far too long for a petite sweater:
This cropped boxy shape is very on trend right now, and I imagine it works well on tall people with broad shoulders and narrow hips. The idea is to pair it with wide-legged or baggy high-waisted pants. But when you have a short torso like I do, ironically, cropped tops are about the worst possible idea, for this reason. Since this lacked the classic fit I was hoping for, I sent it back.
Next were this pair of black stretch corduroy pants, which I was actually really excited about since I’d been looking for a cozy pair of cords for a while. These were petite-length, mid-rise (increasingly hard to find in this era of ultra-high-waisted everything), and skinny! Could I have found my holy grail cords?
Pants: Petite Mid-Rise Skinny Stretch Corduroy, size 27P, $83.40 (reduced from $139)
Alas, no. Sadly, these were another disappointment:
I should have read the reviews that suggested to size up. In my usual size of 27P, these were a tight fit and a bit uncomfortable to button.
But that wasn’t even the worst part. See the issue? That’s right. They’re ankle length. I was expecting full length pants that I can wear with socks and shoes, because who wears cords in summer anyway? But these are only a 26″ inseam, which, on me, comes just above the ankle, making them only suitable for summer wear.
Since Montreal’s sandal season is only a few months long, and I would never in a million years wear long black cords in summer heat, I sent these back too. I guess I’ll have to keep looking for my dream cords.
Finally, my only successful item this year was actually a dupe of a pair of pants I already own. The Sloan midrise skinnies have long been my go-to basic black pants for everything from work to weekend. They’re that perfect pant that really has no equivalent anywhere else. My current pair is nearing four years old, so I decided to pick up a second pair:
Pants: Petite Mid-Rise Skinny Sloan Pant, size 4P, $66 (reduced from $110)
Once again, these don’t disappoint:
They don’t seem to fit quite as well as my previous pair — I’m sure BR mucked with the fit somewhere in the past few seasons — but they’re still pretty close to perfect. This time, I didn’t mind the ankle length, because I do have a tendency to wear these in warm weather with a short-sleeved top to work. They fit perfectly at the waist and hips, the fabric is comfortable with only a small amount of stretch, and I know from experience that these pants do everything.
Maybe one of these days, I’ll actually be back at the office in person on a regular basis, and I’ll be glad to have a second pair of these in my rotation.
BR’s less expensive sister brand, Old Navy has long been a good source of basics like tees, tanks, and workout wear in petite sizes.
Old Navy recently changed its sizing in an attempt to be more body-positive and size inclusive. While I applaud the sentiment, the results of this are a bit of a mixed bag for petites. They got rid of their petite section and mixed petite sizes in with regulars, making it harder for us to actually find clothes in our size. Not only is there no petite section on the website anymore, but they’ve made it extremely difficult to filter for items available in petite sizes — which is still definitely the minority of clothes. For instance, a recent website check showed 12 pages of clothing under women’s, but filtering for petite sizes narrowed that down to only 3 pages of items. Petite sizing goes up to 20P, while regulars go up to 30, so they definitely aren’t as petite plus-friendly as they could be.
In addition, their clothes are now shown on more diverse-sized models — but in practice, that means showing them on tall models in sizes 4, 12, and 18, but not on petite models anywhere. While I definitely think Old Navy deserves kudos for recognizing that not every woman is a size 00, I wish they’d apply the same inclusiveness to combat heightism that they did to sizeism.
Here are a few of the things I picked up in this haul:
First off, this flutter-sleeve forest green printed top, which I thought would make a great new option to wear under a jacket or a blazer:
Blouse: Flutter-Sleeve Smocked Floral Swing Blouse, size XSP, $17.49 (reduced from $34.99)
And here it is on me:
It’s okay. Not great. I do like the colour, and the flutter-sleeve look is a good one on me. I find myself wishing the sleeves had a little more flutter to them, since the shoulder fabric is very minimal. The fit isn’t terrible, but I find the neckline is a bit high and the bottom of the blouse is very loose. I might try taking in the side seams a bit to see if it helps it look less baggy.
I was right, though: This does work nicely under a blazer. Since I typically get dressed from the waist up these days for Teams and Zoom calls, this will work fine for that purpose. And it’s cheap. So despite a few misgivings, I decided to keep it.
Next, my partner had recently pointed out to me that I keep borrowing his sweatshirts whenever I’m cold. I thought that adding a cozy hoodie to my wardrobe would be a good idea for these chilly winter months. So I picked up this quarter-zip hoodie in Plum Wine, which I thought would be perfect:
Sweatshirt: Loose Cropped Quarter-Zip Hoodie, size PS, $22.50 CAD (reduced from $44.99)
Unfortunately, this was another one of those good ideas in theory that was terrible in practice. “Loose” and “cropped” should be watchwords for me by now; anything with that description is going to be just awful on me. Case in point:
Yikes, yikes, yikes. No. This is just terrible. The cropped length is about as bad as it gets, but the way it bags out at the waist makes me look like I’m carrying a stolen radio under there somewhere. The kangaroo pocket isn’t at my waist where it should be, but is kinda actually up at the chest area. And the dropped shoulder makes a bad sweatshirt look even worse.
Needless to say, I sent this back. I’ll have to look for a better fitting cozy sweatshirt option.
In better cozy options, I picked up this grey plaid flannel shirt, since plaid flannel is always a good option in a Canadian winter:
Shirt: Classic Plaid Flannel Shirt for Women, size XSP, $18.49 CAD (reduced from $36.99)
And it’s another one of those okay-but-not-great options. Here it is on me:
Once again, the fit is baggy at the waist and hip area, and this even despite the fact that I sized down to an XS Petite. It works well at the shoulders, and the sleeve length is pretty good, though. I don’t love how the shirttails in the back are longer than in the front, which makes it look sloppy; they probably assumed people would tuck it in, but tucking tops looks absolutely awful on me, so I’ll just live with it.
The grey is a little lighter than I might’ve liked — I usually look better in darker charcoals — and I don’t love the way there’s a bright stripe right across the chest area. Um. A bit awkward. And definitely not the case for the shirt on the model.
But a Canadian girl can’t have too much flannel, and this one isn’t half bad. For the price, I figure it’s a keeper.
My next purchase was a pair of jeans. I haven’t bought new jeans since before the pandemic, and my favourite pair had developed some holes in it lately that I couldn’t repair any longer. My usual place to buy jeans, Jeans Jeans Jeans, would have required an in-store visit to purchase and hem jeans, which isn’t in our COVID risk profile unfortunately. Limited to buying online, I figured a cheap pair of Old Navy petite jeans would tide me over.
It’s so hard to find midrise skinny jeans, since the GenZers have all apparently decided to rock the high-waisted mom jean look as though they don’t realize how ridiculous they look. Being on the sensible side of 40, I have the luxury of not having to care what the kids think. So I opted for these “Pop Icon” jeans, which I’m pretty sure used to be called Rockstar jeans, in yet another sign of the apocalypse and end of all good music. But anyway.
Jeans: Mid-Rise Pop Icon Skinny Dark-Wash Jeans, size 4P, $25 CAD (reduced from $44.99)
And here they are on me. Not bad for the price:
These fit pretty well right off the bat. No waist gap or unsightly bagging or pulling anywhere. The petite length has a 28″ inseam, which is just about right on me for skinny jeans (in straight leg jeans I’m normally a 29.5″ or 30″ inseam). A very decent pair of basic jeans.
They’re not the nicest looking denim in the world, and I doubt I’ll have the same love affair with these as I do with my Fidelitys or my Mavis. Given the price point, I’m sure the colour will bleed in the wash and turn my hands blue. But they’ll do.
Last but not least, I decided to have a little fun with a holiday t-shirt:
T-shirt: Matching Holiday Graphic T-Shirt, size XS Petite, $12 CAD
We Jews get left out of every Ugly Sweater Contest at Christmas each year. And we petites often get left out of buying fun graphic tees at all, since so few of them come in petite sizes. Since I’m about to host my annual latke party on Zoom again, I figured I needed a theme shirt:
Okay, so it’s cheesy. But it’s cute. And it fits. And for only $12, I couldn’t resist a little cheese.
Black Friday is not what it used to be. With no workplace, social life, or occasions to go to, I find that my need for new clothes is really minimal these days. Which is a good thing, I suppose, because the current trends are awful. Boxy, shapeless clothing that fits awkwardly, cheap fabrics, and styles that don’t flatter any body shape, let alone mine. I’m more than happy to opt out for a while.
If you’re looking for great deals and fun new trends, this probably isn’t the year. If you’re looking to minimize shopping and contribute less to consumer waste, there couldn’t be a better time to do it.
Happy whatever you’re celebrating this season, and may we all find light in these incredibly dark times.